The Private Investigation industry is no different than any other industry out there. There are heavy-hitters and there are individuals who we wonder how they ever obtained a license. Meeting with clients who have been lead into the abyss by the latter is both irritating and rewarding at the same time. Irritating because it is clear they have been scammed by someone supposedly there to help them in their time of need, and rewarding knowing our team could fix it and get the client back to where they were supposed to be to begin with.
But how do you know if you are hiring a heavy-hitter or a clown with a license, you ask? Here are my Top 7 Things To Look For Before Selecting A Private Investigator:
Is the investigator licensed or is he/she working under someone's license? Just because someone is a licensed investigator doesn't mean they are a heavy-hitter, (we'll get to that) but someone working under a license has not met the "minimum" requirements set by the state and requires a closer look.
How long has the investigator had a license and are there any complaints against it? Checking the validity of a license and for any complaints made against an investigator requires a simple search on your state's licensing website. It generally costs no money and is a quick process.
Does your investigator have law enforcement training & investigative experience? There is no better investigative training than provided by law enforcement agencies-period. Investigators who have had formal law enforcement training combined with years of investigative experience are by far the best investigators out there. And because of their association with a law enforcement agency, they are less likely to scam you.
Does your investigator have a support team and resources to conduct your type of investigation? There have been many times I have seen the first three criteria met, but the investigator is a "one-man" show. Meaning, he/she has no experienced assets to call on if the investigation requires more personnel to be accomplished properly. Instead, the investigator will attempt to go it alone, only to obtain poor quality work product.
Is your investigator a "front-man?" I have seen several investigative companies who's owner is licensed, with law enforcement experience (of some type) but is not involved in the investigation. Instead, they assign the case to someone who has no law enforcement investigative experience at a fraction of their fee and cash in while giving you a substandard product. A quality investigative company will have experienced personnel equal to or greater than the owner. Don't accept inexperience at any cost.
Does your investigator have a deep network? Any investigator who has been in the business for some time knows they need a deep, solid network of associates that can help them accomplish their mission. They should have ties to local, state, federal law enforcement agencies, access to records not available to the public, and the availability of everything from aircraft-tracking devices to assist in the investigation of the client's case. An investigator with a note pad and a phone camera isn't going to cut it.
You get what you pay for. Let's face it, legal battles and investigations are not cheap. But what makes winners win and losers lose is usually the difference in what it costs to bring in the big guns. Yes, heavy-hitter's cost more. That's because they have more assets, more trained personnel, and more experience they are bringing to the table. Any investigator who comes in and promises the world in exchange for a fraction of what a heavy-hitter would charge will more than likely just take your money and leave you empty handed. If it's worth fighting, fight it the right way-to win.